Old Farm Strawberry Hill

Old Farm Strawberry HillNeil McKnight
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Old Farm Strawberry Hill

The 'Old Farm' Strawberry Hill is West­ern Australia's oldest farm, est­abl­ish­ed in 1827 for grow­ing vegetables for the soldiers and early settlers of Albany, then known as Fredericks Town.

In 1831, a wattle and daub cott­age was con­struct­ed by Dr Alexan­der Collie, the first Govern­ment Resid­ent, for a visit by Governor Stirl­ing.

In 1833, Sir Richard Spencer was appoint­ed Govern­ment Resid­ent, and a larger two-st­ory stone build­ing was com­mis­­sion­ed to house the 21 mem­bers of his family and servants.

Spencer brought merino sheep, cattle, horses other livestock, along with plants, fruit tree cutt­ings and seeds and pioneer­ed farm­ing methods suit­able to the local terrain and clim­ate.

The Old Farm ex­pand­ed to over 52 hectares, successfully grow­ing blood oranges, grapes, raspberr­ies, gooseberr­ies, asparagus, figs, almonds and vegetables.

The new homestead, com­plet­ed in 1836, became the centre of the dist­rict's soci­al life.

Sir Spencer died in 1839, and shortly there­after his wife and family return­ed to the UK. The Old Farm was sold to the Bird family in 1889 and work­ed off and on until 1964 when it was purchas­ed by the Nation­al Trust.

The Old Farm became the centre of the dist­rict's soci­al life.

Today the Old Farm is a popular destina­tion for visitors.

The 1.2-hectare pro­per­ty features beauti­ful and historic gardens, con­tain­ing some of the orig­inal fruit trees. The main house is restor­ed and refurn­ish­ed with some of the orig­inal furnit­ure of the Spencer and Bird famil­ies.

Out­build­ings include a cott­age built by Charles Miner in 1870, sheds, stables and a barn con­tain­ing artifacts and machin­ery. There is an out­side stage area for per­form­­ance and group activi­ties.

Volunteers are on hand to answer quest­ions.

Article updated 29/10/2016.